I hope you are having an all-star start to your week. Coming off the weekend is alway tough. However, there is no day better than Monday to get back on track. It is time to shake off the Monday blues and bring your focus back to healthy eating. Your first stop – the grocery store. Today I am here to provide you with my three absolute BEST tips to grocery shopping like the champ you are. Put down that grocery store hater-ade and grab yourself a cart. Things are about to get fun!
Grab a cart and get your shop on 🙂
Grocery shopping is pretty much one of my favorite past times. I guess you could even call it a hobby of some sort! Anyone who knows me – knows I love grocery stores. No matter where in the world I might be I am constantly on the look out for grocery stores so I can check out the latest and greatest food finds.
However, with that being said shopping aimlessly is never a good thing. BAD things happen in grocery stores for Amy Plano when she does not have a plan. And I can only imagine the same goes for many of you! Please tell me I am not alone?
So today I am going to rattle off some of my top ticks for staying on track with your diet at the grocery store. I know none of these are new concepts to you. However, if you are like me, I can ALWAYS benefit from gentle reminders on how to improve my behavior.
Game plan it on Friday
I have a rule for myself on Friday afternoons. I cannot leave until I have written down at least two things I am cooking for dinner for the up and coming week. For the other meals I fill in the blanks with leftovers or go-to meals. Easy ones like baked chicken thighs or flank steak on the grill rounding out with some Trader Joe’s frozen veggies. However, I must have two concrete (not made up in my head as I have a tendency to do!) meals that I commit to making before I walk out the door. No ifs, ands or buts about it. That way when I go to the grocery store I am exciting about what I am buying.
I generally just pull up my Pinterest board called “Dinner” (yes – super original) and see what looks interesting and is hopefully in season. Here is the link for my dinner board in case you need some inspiration. Once I have identified the recipes I jot down the ingredients I will need in my spiral plain Jane notebook. This when I go home I know what I need and can compare it against what foods I already have.
A typical entry might look like this:
Monday: Baked chicken thighs, Trader Joe’s frozen sweet potatoes & broccoli
Tuesday: Egg Roll in a Bowl
Thursday: Crock Pot Chicken Chili
Friday: Low Carb Chicken Quesadillas with cabbage lime slaw
Sunday: Flank Steak, Baked Potatoes and Salad
It is important to note these dinner recipes do not need to be fancy! Nor does your weekly ‘meal plan’ need to be elaborate. People get wrapped up in the semantics. They say to themselves I don’t know what to make that is healthy. Come on. You know what is healthy and what is not. You do not need me to tell you day-day what you should eat. These meals should be something everyone enjoys and resembles something relatively healthy. Depending upon your family the term relatively healthy likely means different things. But don’t sweat the small things.
Just write it down – the very act of writing things down help sets you up to succeed. Plan to succeed right from the start.
I know you have heard this quote a zillion times – but the message never gets old.
By planning ahead on Friday you will save yourself a ton of stress, time and money at the grocery store. It really puts YOU in the driver seat rather than leaving your meals to chance. So many of my patients do awesome all day with healthy eating. But then dinner rolls around and nothing is planned – so they reach for what is most convenient but not always healthy. They then beat themselves up. By coming up with a plan before the fact this can easily be avoided.
Because you and I both know when we go to the grocery store with no meals planned – food goes to waste and we come home with food but no meals = no bueno 🙁 It’s like having a closet full of awesome clothes – but no perfect “outfits”. We aint’ got time for that!
Make a list and stick with it
DO NOT step foot in any grocery store without a list. Okay – I admit I am the worst at this. However, we all need to raise the bar and follow through with grocery list making. Maybe I should start a self-help group for this? Honestly. I don’t care if you need to scribble the list down on a receipt you find in your purse. You MUST have a shopping list BEFORE you step foot in that grocery store.
Just write it down – the very act of writing things down sets you up to succeed
Shopping with a list is so critical. Not only does it save money because you are only buying exactly what you need – it also saves you from buying less than stellar foods that were not on your list. By making a list and sticking to it you can get in and out of the grocery store without cruising down every aisle wondering, “Do I need these delicious bourbon pickles from Traders?” – nope not on the list. Move on sista’!
The Type A person in me likes to arrange my list on how the store is set up. The list often starts with vegetables, then fruit, next protein and ultimately the dairy aisle. That way I don’t need to back track. Also the crazy dietitian in me likes to play a game when I grocery shop. I like to see if I can only manage to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. As it is really in the aisles that most people get into trouble with processed foods. Sometimes I am successful – sometimes not. However, I do make a point to spend more time out of the aisles if possible. But sometimes those Ghost Pepper Potato Chips do call my name in aisle 3 🙁
Never ever shop hungry
I know this one is really a no brainer – but nothing good ever comes of going to the grocery store hungry. I don’t care what you eat – whether it be a meal or a snack – but dear friend please have something! If not everything looks good. You end up buying things that you would have never have even contemplated putting in your cart.
And guess what? If it ends up in your cart – it ends up in your house. And if it is in your house — you will likely eat it 🙂
So why not avoid this nonsense all together? Keep healthy snacks in your car. Some suggestions include single serving packs of almonds, RX bars, single serving packet of trail mix, small bags of popcorn, and my personal favorite beef jerky.
Well my friends that is hopefully motivation on this Monday to get your butt in gear. Happy grocery shopping and hope to see you at Traders, Shop Rite, Whole Foods, Aldi’s or Costco or any other grocery store in between.
Need help navigating the jungle that we call the grocery store? Did you know the dietitians at The Plano Program conduct both one-one and group grocery shopping tours? Well we sure do! Email us us at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Hugs & High Fives,
If you learn any one thing from me on your journey to wherever you may need a little help going I hope you remember to do this one simple thing – practice being grateful every. single. day. From my experience over the last 40 glorious years on this planet – I see much more frustration and sadness than happiness in my practice.
But please remember no matter how bad it may seem — there is always something to be grateful for. There is always something to smile about. Please do not let a single day go by without counting your blessings and appreciating all the wonderful things in your life. By fostering an attitude of gratitude you will stay grounded to the good and find that you have no time left for the bad.
People spend so much time complaining about the things they don’t have, focusing on the things they want or feel like they should have — that they have no time to appreciate what they already have. Kind of crazy when you think about it, right? Backwards way of thinking if you ask me.
Why Gratitude is Important
A while back I read a fantastic article in the magazine Inc. In this well-written article, Elliot James talks about the power of gratitude. He compares gratitude to the likes of an emotional muscle that one can and should flex everyday. He makes a very profound statement that I could not agree with more:
Spot on! People who are grateful not only seek out more successes but they draw more successes into their lives.
Just think about it for a moment. When you are grateful, the more others enjoy being around you. It’s kind of like when you sparkle, like you all do – everyone wants to be your friend. Your appreciation supports those around you and let’s them know they are accepted. By expressing your gratitude you allow these folks to see the positive elements inherent in daily life, and promote them to feel more hopeful about the possibility of future success.
In the business world I live in clients (and potential clients) love to feel that you are grateful for their business; it creates strong bonds of loyalty and mutual support. One of the ways I let my clients is know I am appreciative of them is with a gift card of their choice to either Trader Joes or Whole Foods when they refer someone to me for my services. This is not something that is noted anywhere in my literature – but is something I feel is very strongly about and I do on a regular basis.
By expressing my gratitude it doesn’t only acknowledge the person’s actions. It recognizes the actual person. In doing so, I set a winning tone and one in that is mutually inclusive for everyone involved.
Just like learning to not take everything personally takes some time to master; so does learning the art of gratitude. However, the more you flex and use that emotional muscle; the more it will strengthen and grow. And after all, who does not want big guns?
How I Practice Gratitude
One of the things I personally find extremely helpful in my own life is to set aside two separate times a day to practice gratitude. When I worked at Yale, for the whole ride in rather than listening to the radio, I would go through a whole list of things in my mind I was grateful for. Now that I do not spend that much time in my car, I instead have a little notebook called my “Gratitude Journal,” and each morning I write down 10 things I am grateful and appreciative for. I then revisit this list right before I go to bed. Not only does this start and end my day on a positive note, it really makes me recognize just how amazing and blessed I really am. It also keeps me from taking things for granted which is sometimes so easy to do.
As you start to practice gratitude (and I really, really, really hope you will!) you will notice, over time, a real change in the whole trajectory of your life. You may find that your efforts to create the career and life you want are increasingly successful. In no time, you’ll quickly begin to experience the positive impact of approaching your life with a focus on gratitude. Which will give you even more to be grateful about ♥
And one of the most marvelous things about gratitude – it has no upper limit. You can be as grateful as you want to be. Develop an attitude of gratitude and you will have more things to be grateful about tomorrow! And what’s a better time to start than today?
Despite the fact that it is Monday what are you grateful for?!? I know you can think of something. Give me the 411 on your gratefulness.
Hugs and High Fives,